Van Gerwen secures third world darts championship
MICHAEL VAN GERWEN became the king of London's Alexandra Palace as he demolished Michael Smith to secure darts' biggest payday.
The Dutchman secured a mammoth cheque of £500,000 ($A906,000) - the richest prize in the sport - and lifted the William Hill PDC World Darts Championship for a third time.
It never lived up to its top billing and ended up being an anti-climactic final with the world No.1 stunning Smith 7-3 to win the Sid Waddell Trophy.
In a tournament where a new breed of young, motivated players emerged, it was perhaps fitting the final would break new ground in terms of age.
The last time two men in their 20s battled it out for a world crown was the famous final of 1983, when rookie Keith Deller stunned the great Eric Bristow with a 138 clearance to win at Jollees Cabaret Club in Stoke.
MVG, who turns 30 in April, won the pre-match bull backstage and elected to throw first, knowing if he set a fast tempo he could potentially bully the 28-year-old "Bully Boy".
The Dutchman opened the match with a brilliant 129 finish on the bull and although he missed darts as it went to a fifth-leg decider, he secured the first set with a 108.30 average.
Gary Anderson, the two-time world champion, has acted as a mentor to Smith for several years and the Flying Scotsman had reckoned his protege would dominate Van Gerwen with his intense scoring power.
Yet Smith appeared to have not been listening as his average was about 10 points lower than MVG midway through the second set.
And, crucially, he was also missing his doubles at key moments.
It was obvious Van Gerwen had settled quicker into this match than his nervous, tentative opponent and he comfortably took out 80 and a 126 as he moved into a 3-0 lead.
In the fourth set, Smith had a chance to get a set on the board but was instead kicking himself as he missed four set darts.
With Van Gerwen leading 4-0, Smith was in danger of being on the end of an embarrassing rout but managed to win the fifth set with a 124 checkout.
It was a measure of respectability and meant he avoided the first final whitewash since Phil Taylor thumped Peter Manley 7-0 in 2006 at the Circus Tavern.
Smith was a man possessed after that TV ad break and won the sixth set thanks to back-to-back bullseye finishes.
But any chance of a heroic, memorable comeback was stopped when Van Gerwen won set seven with a superb 112 on double 16 to lead 5-2.
The eighth set proved pivotal as Smith missed three darts to close the arrears.
Van Gerwen took advantage, clinching double eight amid a chorus of boos from the partisan crowd.
Smith showed tremendous bottle to win the ninth set.
But MVG - who averaged 102.21 - eventually cliched the title on double 16 and the darts world turned Oranje again.
Smith, who won £200,000 ($A362,000) for his troubles, is too talented a player not to be back in a world final, but he will look at the doubles missed and know where it all went wrong.
When MVG started this tournament before Christmas, a pint was thrown over him during his walk-on.
On Tuesday night, local time, with a cheque for half a million pounds in his back pocket, the beers were certainly on him.